St John Karp

Ramblings of an Ornamental Hermit

Don’t Steal Your Date’s Shoes

St John’s Rules for First Dates

I don’t care what planet you’re from, there is always a hell of a lot of etiquette at play on a first date. You probably want to scrape the barnacles off the hull and groom yourself a bit more carefully than usual. Jokes about dead relatives might be considered a faux pas, though it’s one I’ll admit I’ve made. I’d also try and avoid getting too drunk, although if the date is going poorly enough this can also be a great Plan B. This one guy, though. I’ve never had a first date like this.

It was earlier this year. We met up for drinks at one of my favorite bars, Twin Peaks in the Castro, which the natives like to call the “glass coffin” because it has enormous windows that face onto the street and nobody in there is under 70. I love it — it’s quiet, velvety, the drinks are good, I’m inevitably the youngest and most attractive person there, and I can outrun anyone who might hit on me.

Rule #1: Show up at the right time and place

I don’t own a mobile phone, so when I’m meeting people I try to be as specific as possible about a time and a place. I specified inside, which I figured is normal with bars because you can get a drink while you’re waiting. Well, it’s half an hour later now, I’m starting to look a little pathetic nursing this drink, and this guy still hasn’t shown up. That’s when I look out the doors to see him staring at his phone and looking pissed off. St John to the rescue! I dash over to the door, pull him inside, and by some miracle the date is saved. Better than that — the date is actually going really well. So well in fact that he invites me back to his place to watch a movie.

Rule #2: The movie is never actually a movie

The only reason this is a rule at all is because saying, “Hey, let’s get naked and do the horizontal Charleston” makes you sound easy and you risk losing face if the date isn’t actually going as well as you think it is. “I’ve got a great movie we should watch” is the perfect code — everyone knows it’s a flimsy pretext to get your date back to your flat, and once they’re inside those doors there’s nothing in Heaven or Earth that can stand between you and your prey, unless the place burns down or you accidentally walk in on his family staging an intervention. So he asks me back to his place for movie and a pizza. And because I’m easy, I say yes.

As you may have guessed, all the man of the hour had in mind really was a movie and a pizza. Which is fine, it’s just lying is all. We have a code, people.

Rule #3: Don’t let a stranger find you in his bed

The movie ends, and my date has fallen fast asleep on the sofa with his legs up on my lap. And what legs! But that’s a different story. The point is, he’s dead to the world. I nudge him. Nothing. I shake him. Nada. I lift his legs up into the air, crawl out from under him, and drop them back down. Zilch.

I can’t believe how heavy a sleeper this guy is. Nothing seemed to wake him up. I even grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him as violently as I dared, but he still didn’t wake up. At this point I’m starting to reevaluate where the night is going. Before he fell asleep he did invite me to stay over, but my host is out cold on our first date. I can’t just crawl into his bed on my own. That’s a thing, right? What if he wakes up, forgets I’m there, and finds some stranger in his bed? What if he wakes up and regrets asking me to stay?

So I figure I’m pulling the cord on this thing. I’ll leave him a note, go home, and we can pick this thing back up on the second date, because damn it I’ve seen him with no pants on and I don’t want just the trailer, I want the whole thing in IMAX with surround sound.

I write my note and gently leave it on the coffee table in front of the sofa. I put on my hat and jacket, and make sure I have my wallet and keys. I’m all ready to go — and that’s when I realize I can’t find my shoes.

Rule #4: Don’t steal your date’s shoes

They’re not by the door, which is where I could have sworn I took them off when I came in. So I search the living room in the dark, but the only shoes I can find are his. I don’t understand. We’ve been in the living room all night, where else could they possibly be? I did step into the kitchen and the bedroom briefly. It doesn’t seem likely that they’re in there, but at this point I’m running out of options. I search every other room in this guy’s flat, but I still can’t find my shoes.

The menu on the DVD is looping for about the hundredth time as I make my second and third passes of the apartment. I’m looking under things now, furniture and piles of clothes. I can’t find Bo Diddley.

I’m actually considering walking home barefoot, or stealing a pair of my date’s shoes and bringing them back on the second date. I stop myself. That’s insane. Logically, the shoes have to be somewhere in this flat, and if they’re not where they should be then my date must have moved them. I start rooting through his closet. I’ve practically turned his flat upside-down now, and I still can’t find my shoes.

That’s when I discover a broom closet down the hall from the living room. It’s pitch black and I don’t want to turn on the lights, so I reach inside and feel around. A shoe! I found a shoe! And it’s not one of mine. I chucked the thing back inside and keep fumbling around until, under a pair of other shoes, I finally find mine.

I couldn’t believe it. My date had actually hidden my shoes when I wasn’t looking. This is weird fucking behavior. Seriously, I mean who goes on a first date and steals their date’s shoes? Was this a clumsy attempt to keep me there?

At any rate, now I’ve got them back I’m getting the hell out of Dodge, so I hoof it before he wakes up. It was a pretty good first date in the end, though I am glad I didn’t have to steal a pair of his shoes in return. We never did have that second date, though I think the first was memorable enough for two. The sad thing is, that wasn’t even the worst first date I’ve been on. That was one of the nice ones.